Ska was born with the blend of British and American music with Jamaican music. It was not only the blend of music, it was also the blend of these three cultures. It was developed in Kingston shantytowns, the poorer outskirts of towns. Ska embraced the Rude Boy culture. The music referenced many biblical writings and gospel pieces to express Jamaican desire for independence. Ska was also a way for the youth to express their fantasies for carefree lifestyles.The lyrics also dealt with the daily struggles of living in overcrowded cities such as:

  • Demeaning labor conditions
  • Dangers in gambling
  • Homicide in shantytowns
  • Change in gender roles due to urbanization


Ska also popularized because it reflected the lifestyles of the middle/lower class Jamaicans. Despite gaining independence, Jamaica had an economy that could not offer jobs to the majority of its population. The people created a black market to support their family. Ska was one of the many forms of resistance and autonomy in the youth. Ska declined in the 1960s with the fading of Rude Boy culture. The beat slowed to create two new musical genres, rocksteady and reggae. Both of these genres were less violent, but just as socially conscious.


Some of the youth that grew up with ska travelled to Britain for work. These transnational migrants influenced the emergence of the second wave of ska. Along with the music, Jamaicans took their ideas and Rude Boy culture with them. It fused with British punk rock to make a sound that the new immigrants and the working class youth could express themselves with.

In the United States, ska did not have much impact or presence in their markets. During the 1990s, ska had its most successful presence in the United States. It mixed with the speed of American music like hardcore and punk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *